Westerners have called radical Islam one of the gravest threats facing the free world. But scholars and foreign-affairs experts agree that the faith's teachings are humane.
For years, journalists documenting militant Islam have supplied U.S. and Western media with harrowing stories of extremists conducting a reign of terror. But such reports neglect millions of peace-loving, tolerant Muslims who abide by the true teachings of their faith, says Sheik Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America.
Kabbani was one of numerous scholars, anthropologists, diplomats and religious leaders attending a conference earlier this year sponsored by the Supreme Council and Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies. Participants analyzed the nature of radical Islamic movements, from their origins in Iran and Afghanistan to their more recent infiltration of Central Asian regions such as Dagestan and Chechnya.
Most experts agreed that politicization of Islam is the primary factor driving radical factions of the faith, combined with modernization and globalization. "With the growth of Islam, we see the birth of different schools of thought within Islam," Kabbani explained. "As previously isolated races and nations converge through the process of globalization and technical advancement, there are more opportunities for differences to arise."
For Kabbani, …